The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has mistakenly disclosed the name of a Saudi diplomat suspected of supporting two al-Qaeda hijackers in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Yahoo News reported on Wednesday that back in September, the Wall Street Journal, citing a federal court, said that the FBI had disclosed the Saudi official’s name to the lawyers for the 9/11 families in a partially declassified 2012 report.
Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative journalist at Yahoo News who was the first to notice the apparent mistake, told Al Jazeera he knew right away the disclosure was “a slip-up”.
“When I noticed that the declaration included this information, I contacted the FBI for comment. Because I knew that the justice department and the Trump administration had been going to extraordinary length to keep all of this under wraps,” he said.
“In fact, both Attorney General William Barr and the Acting Director of the National Intelligence Richard Grennell had filed motions with the court saying that any information relating to the Saudi embassy official and all internal FBI documents about this matter were so sensitive; they were state secrets, that means if revealed they could cause damage to the national security.”
The document included two other names, Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi Islamic Affairs official in Los Angeles and Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi agent who participated in the hijacking of the plane that flew into the Pentagon. According to the media outlet, the name of the third person is Mussaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, a Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry official.